The Consortium are pleased to annouce the publication of the 2010 Review of Crime and Justice in Scotland: a Fifth Review of Progress.
The report has a foreword by Dr Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, Director of the National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Finland. Finland is a country with the same size of population of Scotland and some of the same health and social problems. However, its rate of imprisonment is less than 40% of the Scottish rate and its prison population is declining.
In his foreword Dr Lappi-Seppälä comments that Finnish imprisonment rates have declined in the past 10 years whilst those in Scotland have risen and comments:
“The report gives a simple explanation for the increased number of prisoners in Scotland. At the same time as the proportion of offenders receiving custodial sentences is increasing, the length of sentences has become longer. This double change lifted the Scottish incarceration rate from the level of 100 (per 100,000 population) in the early 1990s to the level of around 160. The obvious way to reverse this trend is to reduce either the number of prison sentences, or the length of prison terms (or both) [. . .] There is no reason to assume that increased use of imprisonment explains declining crime in Scotland.”
Speaking today Professor Alec Spencer, the Convenor of the Consortium said:
“Despite commitments by successive governments to reduce the number of people in prison, the numbers continue to rise year on year More dramatically, over the last 10 years, the number of women in prison has doubled compared with a 31% rise for men over the same 10 year period. We welcome the current Commission on Women Offenders chaired by Dame Elish Angiolini and look forward to its report in February 2012. There have been some real improvements in the system but the rate of incarceration remains a continuing issue.”